Will you give to United Way in '08?

Should you donate to the United Way of Central Carolinas' campaign this year, or give directly to the charity of your choice?

That's a question many area residents are asking as they sort through the controversy over former CEO Gloria Pace King's $2 million pension package.

The United Way's board ousted King last month after donors objected to her $2 million pension package. The board stopped payments on it, and a task force is studying reforms. But donors such as Kevin Griffith, 36, of Charlotte, say they'll bypass the United Way this year.

“I don't think the United Way has figured (its problems) out yet,” said Griffith, who's giving to his church instead. “I want to know it's going directly to help people.”

But leaders among the more than 90 charities depending on the United Way for financial support urge donors to stick with the United Way. They say individual donors don't know the full spectrum of needs; the United Way systematically analyzes area needs, and its web of agencies collaborates to meet them.

That's why Alan Bartnik, 46, of Concord, increased his United Way donation this year.

“People are focusing on the wrong thing,” he said. In bypassing the United Way, he added, “we unintentionally end up hurting our ability to meet the whole need” in the community.

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